Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #13: Meat Puppets

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Meat Puppets
Where from:  USA (Phoenix)
Years active:  1980–1996, 1999–2002, 2006–present
Number of studio albums:  14
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  "Backwater" (#47)
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  Too High To Die (#62)

Meat Puppets are an interesting group.  Most people know them, if at all, from their 1994 album Too High To Die, which was the band's highest-charting album and spawned their only song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, the dangerously catchy and grungy "Backwater."  Back in 1994 or 1995, I bought the album solely on the strength of "Backwater," and it turned out that the whole album was good.  It was one of those weird things, though, where I listened to the album a few times after I bought and really liked it, but then didn't listen to it again for many years.  Thankfully, it wasn't one of the CDs I sold back to a used CD store.

I think a lot of people, myself included, assumed that they were a relatively new band when Too High To Die came out, but Too High To Die was actually the band's eighth studio album.  The band was formed in Phoenix in the early '80s by brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood (lead vocals/guitar and bass, respectively) and drummer Derrick Bostrom.  They started out as a hardcore punk band, but their sound evolved into cowpunk (a genre that kind of blends punk with aspects of country, western, or rockabilly music) and alt rock throughout the '80s and early '90s.

Meat Puppets has influenced a number of alternative rock and grunge bands that gained popularity in the early '90s, most notably Nirvana.  You've probably heard three Meat Puppets songs and not even known it, as Nirvana performed Meat Puppets songs "Plateau," "Oh, Me," and "Lake of Fire" at Nirvana's legendary MTV Unplugged show in 1993 (which was released as a live album after Kurt Cobain's death in 1994).  In fact, the Kirkwood brothers joined Nirvana onstage for all three songs. 

Unfortunately, the Too High To Die label wasn't too far off, as the band's drug use was out of control.  After a tour with Stone Temple Pilots, Cris Kirkwood was addicted to heroin and cocaine (and presumably speedballs), which probably isn't too much of a surprise, since Scott Weiland wasn't exactly known for his moderation.  Then, band broke up in 1996, after their follow up to Too High To Die, No Joke!, was released.  They then reformed from 1999-2002 and put out another album, although Curt Kirkwood was the only original member in the band.  In 2006, the Kirkwood brothers reunited, albeit with a different drummer, and they have put out another four albums, most recently Rat Farm in 2013.

The song I'm going to play for you all today is "Lake of Fire."  It was originally released on the band's 1984 album Meat Puppets II, but, as mentioned above, was rediscovered (or discovered, more likely) thanks to Nirvana's Unplugged cover, which led to a re-recorded version of the song being added as a hidden track on Too High To Die.  Because I love you, I'm going to include the original version, as well as the re-recorded version.

No comments: